There’s no way you’re going to do much car maintenance without the correct jack.
And the choice often comes down to Bottle jacks vs Floor jacks.
So: should you bet your money on a bottle jack or is a floor jack the real deal for you?
Well, there are pros and cons to each of them.
Read on and discover how the two rivals stack up against each other.
Bottle jacks vs Floor jacks
There are a few key areas to compare when it comes to these two tools, including construction, lifting capacity, and of course pricing.
But we’ll also talk about one of the biggest concerns DIYers have: which type of cars does each suit best.
To get started, let’s look at some of the key differences between bottle and floor jacks.
Bottle jacks (or whiskey jacks): Notable Features
A bottle jack has a cylindrical body plus, of course, a neck and resembles a bottle (in shape) hence the name.
Here is the thing: Bottle jacks typically use a vertical lifting shaft with some kind of support pad directly holding the weight of whatever is being lifted.
Also note that the jack can be hydraulic (in most cases) or working by screw action.
Floor jacks (or trolley jacks): Notable Features
In floor jacks, a horizontal piston will push on the end of the bellcrank with the long arm moving the lifting pad up.
Now, because the lifting pad will move in an arc when rising, floor jacks come with castors and wheels to compensate for this.
The other notable thing is that a floor jack adopts a very low profile when you collapse it.
I should add that floor jacks are exclusively hydraulic.
Is a Bottle jack right for your needs?
Is bottle jack right for your regular car repair needs?
Let’s weigh the pros and cons.
Upsides of Bottle jacks
1. The bottle jack is good enough for mammoth weight
That’s right and it is one area that the bottle jack really knocks out the floor jack.
In fact, bottle jacks can lift up to 50 tons!
In comparison, floor jacks are quite limited- mostly because of their construction- and you’ll struggle to find a good floor jack that can lift more than 3.5 tons.
“But hey, there are no vehicles weighing 50 tons”….I know and that brings me to other bottle jack uses.
Now, because of their frightening lifting powers, bottle jacks are the equipment of choice when maintaining farming equipment, heavy industrial machinery in factories, and more.
2. It’s fantastic for tight spots
Remember that our garages are not the same and sometimes you have very little room for maneuvering when lifting the car.
A bottle jack will be your friend if you often work in tight spaces because of the narrower design.
3. It’s perfectly portable
A bottle jack stands upright and takes up reduced space.
As such, it’s easier to carry around and store away after use.
Think of it like a lightweight companion that comes to your aid when your vehicle needs emergency lifting.
Drawbacks of working with Bottle jacks
1. Questionable stability
Since bottle jacks are taller than wider, it can actually end up tumbling down when pumped too high.
This is made worse by their small bases.
- The higher clearance limits it
That’s also right.
The bottle stands tall (remember?) and you’ll not be able to use it underneath vehicles with low ground clearance.
In fact, they tend to have a set minimum lift clearance and won’t work for certain cars.
Is a floor jack right for your needs?
The floor jack has its supporters in the long running Bottle jacks vs Floor jacks debate as well.
Here is how it scores..
Benefits of using a floor jack
1. It distributes weight evenly
The jack’s flatter than taller nature makes lifting your vehicle with a floor jack safer from beginning to end as weight is uniformly distributed.
Most are wheeled and you don’t need to worry about having jack stands (you could be in an emergency) as it moves with your car (instead of slipping off).
2. It’s nearly universal
Since it has a low profile, the floor jack doesn’t discriminate against lower-lying vehicles, so you can use it to jack up even sports cars and their peers.
3. Floor jack’s long pumping handle is a godsend
As we mentioned earlier, they’re usually equipped with longer handles and are easier and quicker to lift/ lower with.
Downsides of working with floor jacks
1. It’s not very able
There’s nothing frustrating than discovering that the jack you’ve been having all along won’t lift your truck.
And while adequate for smaller cars, that is likely to happen if you buy a floor jack for your 6000-pounds truck!
2. Teflon poses some serious portability questions
While the larger base enhances their stability (and hence safety), floor jacks come with a caveat: you must look for space to store it.
It may not even fit in the compartment of your smaller ride!
3. It is expensive!
There’s a price to pay for the increased stability and ease of use and you’ll usually pay more for floor jacks than bottle jacks with equal capacity.
Bottle jacks vs Floor jacks: Which jack Should You Choose?
Though there are situations you can use either, we have scenarios where each of the jack fits better.
So, then, where does the bottle jack suit?
Well, on the whole, a bottle jack favors heavy vehicle models as long as the ground clearance is not an obstacle.
On the other hand, floor jacks are the real deal for the majority of the low-clearance vehicle models (sport cars, some sedans, and more).
Both of these tools can help you speed up the job when changing tires, rotors, brakes, oil, and more.
But as we have seen, a bottle jack is more suited for taller and extremely heavy vehicles while its counterpart is likely to be more ideal for owners of cars sitting closer to the ground.
Don’t forget there are situations you may need to use both like when repairing or replacing suspensions.
Choose wisely as you take the plunge to DIY mechanics.